Crytek has announced that they will be releasing their CryENGINE 3 SDK for anyone to download free of charge. According to CEO Cevat Yerli, this free SDK contains all of the features of its commercial version, including game sample code from Crysis 2, for independent developers to build a complete game from the ground up.
The catch is that it can only be used for non-commercial purposes, meaning any mods or games you create will have to be given away for free as well, but the company hopes it will get more people using its engine and tools. For aspiring developers it's a chance to get some experience under their belt, while those with previous knowledge can use one of the best engines on the market without spending a dime and pay a fee later if they want to sell their creations.
Those that want to take the commercial route will have to enter into a royalty-only licensing agreement that sees Crytek receiving 20% of the game's revenues. By comparison, Epic's Unreal Development Kit asks for a royalty rate of 25% on game sales only after your game has sold more than $50,000, while Unity is free and only requires developers to purchase the $1,500 Pro version if their company makes over $100,000 in yearly revenue.
The CryENGINE 3 SDK is available to download now at Crydev.net. It's a 658MB download for version 1.0 and only supports development on the PC, so if you want to code for consoles you will need to look elsewhere.